In 2013, I took a leave of absence from my perpetual visiting assistant professor position at Adams State University and for the first time since May of 2000, was a graduate student. After three years, countless flights, much studying, intense writing, and never enough practicing, I graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in May with a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Percussion Performance. As a result, I will go up for tenure and promotion to associate professor this next year.
I was fortunate to have three wonderful teachers and mentors in Timothy Jones, Dean Gronemeier, and Gary Cook. I’ll write a specific post in the future on the experience of being a graduate student after more than a decade away from school, but suffice to say, I am grateful for the decision and support to earn my DMA and I grew exponentially as a musician and educator. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the first summer in quite some time without the feeling I should be writing something…
My DMA document is titled, in case you were desperate to know, “Original Chamber Percussion Works for Silent or Silenced Film in Live Performance.” It’s a survey and performer’s guide of four unique compositions. It also provides a brief history of early film, history of music and sound effects in film, and information relevant to the composers, percussion scoring, and the films. I’ll put it on my website once available in ProQuest.
I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to record drums and percussion tracks for the artists of Howlin’ Dog Records. This Americana label records, produces, and distributes the music of musicians who are primarily from Texas, Tennessee, New Mexico, and Colorado. Some projects I completed this spring and early summer, all of which I’m very proud of, include:
Michael Hearne and Shake Russell’s duo album, Only as Strong as Your Dreams
Ry Taylor’s Take Out Your Tongue
I performed with Ry for his CD release concerts in New Mexico and Colorado, and we will hopefully do more. He has a unique style that's difficult to classify. Click on the above links and check out the music!
In May, I recorded tracks for Nashville-based singer/songwriter, Jordyn Pepper. She has very catchy tunes, a great presence, and will surely use this album to bring more well-deserved opportunities.
More recently, I recorded tracks for Austin-based singer/songwriter, Susan Gibson. She wrote the Dixie Chicks hit, Wide Open Spaces. Honestly, every song I’ve heard of hers is just as good, if not better than her most famous tune.
Both of these artist’s projects are in the mastering stage so more to come here. It’s always a pleasure to go into the studio and work with these singer/songwriters, with producer Don Richmond, and remind myself just how lucky I am to have such a variety of music outlets in my life.
Musical events for the summer include a performance with the reggae/roots band, The Rippah Shreddahs on July 2 in Taos, New Mexico at the Sagebrush Cantina.
Also on the calendar in the next two weeks is a performance with marimbist Marilyn Clark Silva for a Mt. Blanca Summer Conservatory faculty concert. Marilyn is teaching chamber music at the festival and I look forward to meeting and performing with her.
Then it’s on to performances with the Music in the Mountains Festival Orchestra for three weeks in July. This summer’s orchestral repertoire will keep me busy with standard works as well as several exciting pieces by composers from the Americas. Here’s a link to the Summer Season. Come on up to Purgatory and hear us play!
I’ll also have chamber performances as part of Festival and with the Music in the Mountains Conservatory. However, without concerts to prepare with the Animas Percussion Quartet, I’m hoping to get the mountain bike on the world-famous Durango single-track. And there's always enjoying Durango's equally famous beers.
One side project to take place while in Durango is a video of “behind the scenes” of the percussion section at the Festival and my use of Black Swamp percussion instruments. Black Swamp makes terrific instruments and with their updated website, have a series of great initiatives underway to share their philosophy and product.
Another side project is with Freenotes Harmony Park, whose founder is Grammy-winner Richard Cooke. I will be joined by some of my colleagues in the Festival Orchestra’s percussion section to demonstrate these public park instruments. These instruments are a cross between gamelan, giant Orff instruments, and gorgeous sculptures that can endure the elements and exposure to public park performers. I want a set in my backyard and you will too.
August brings us back to the next academic year, which will include a commission of composer Jennifer Bellor for a work featuring vibraphone soloist with wind ensemble. Also in the fall semester, we are instituting a new chamber music program at Adams State University. And I'll be performing some recitals with Japanese clarinetist Chiho Sugo. She's on sabbatical from Gunma University in Japan and will be hanging out with us at Adams State University for the entire semester!
As a final note, I’m hereby claiming to maintain a regular routine of writing for this blog. Watch for “Steel Pan Banding Part Two” shortly as a follow up to my March post regarding the essentials for starting and maintaining a steel band. Part Two will discuss the value and impact of a steel band in an academic setting.
Enjoy your summer!